Schweitzer says marijuana law is far off track

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September 22, 2010

By Christopher Bedford

HELENA, Montana: Montana’s law that legalized medical marijuana in 2004, “has gone far off track,” says Governor Brian Schweitzer. Passed to relieve the pain, and stimulate the appetites, of chronically ill patients, it has degenerated into a loophole through which healthy marijuana users can get a medical marijuana car, and thereby access to the drug, for $150.[1].

“Sweitzer hopes the Legislature will clearly define what types of patients should be able to get green cards,” reports The Greatfalls Tribune’s Erin Madison[1].

The law was passed 62%-32% as a citizens initiative on November 2, 2004, before Schweitzer was governor. It was modeled after similar laws in nine other states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington). Two years prior, the investigative arm of Congress had issued a report which found that these laws were working well and had not created problems for law enforcement officials. Proponents also cited the American Nurses Association, the American Public Health Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians as supporters of the medical use of marijuana under physicians' supervision.[2]

The legalization was opposed in 2004 by Rep. Jim Shockley (R). The official opponent argument was prepared by Shockley, along with the Association for Addiction Professionals President Roger Curtiss, NCAC II, LAC. They argued that, as a federally designated Schedule I Drug, marijuana is dangerous, has a high potential for abuse and has no medical value. They also argued that the initiative undermined Montana's drug enforcement priorities and the Food and Drug Administration System's "rigorous scientific and medical process of approval of new drugs that protect the people of the United States from unsafe, ineffective drugs."

Opponents also claimed that the legalization advocates' assertions over the past decade has led to a decrease in marijuana's perceived harmfulness, which has resulted in an increase in marijuana use, other drug use, and drug addiction. They also noted that even if the initiative passed, there are still federal laws in place making it illegal to grow, sell, purchase or use marijuana even with a doctor's prescription.[3]